Centred around one of Canada’s most storied regiments, Seven Days in Hell tells the epic story of the men from the Black Watch during the bloody battle for Verrières Ridge, a dramatic saga that unfolded just weeks after one of Canada’s greatest military triumphs of the Second World War. O’Keefe takes us on a heart-pounding journey at the sharp end of combat during the infamous Normandy campaign. More than 300 soldiers from the Black Watch found themselves pinned down, as the result of strategic blunders and the fog of war, and only a handful walked away. Thrust into a nightmare, Black Watch Highlanders who hailed from across Canada, the United States, Great Britain and the Allied world found themselves embroiled in a mortal contest against elite Waffen-SS units and grizzled Eastern Front veterans, where station, rank, race and religion mattered little, and only character won the day. Drawing on formerly classified documents and rare first-person testimony of the men who fought on the front lines, O’Keefe follows the footsteps of the ghosts of Normandy, giving a voice yet again to the men who sacrificed everything in the summer of 1944.
“Seven Days in Hell reads like a novel. David O’Keefe has taken the Black Watch’s decimation at Verrières Ridge in July 1944 and created an imaginative work about it which also informs and teaches us about this Canadian tragedy. Drawing upon decades of detailed primary and secondary research, he describes the over-all context of the Normandy campaign and sets the stage for a page-turning and gruesome story of those seven days in hell.”
“A fascinating and candid portrait of the brutal realities for a battalion operating within the ruthless logic required to achieve Allied victory in Normandy.”
“If Canadians should know how their ancestors proved victorious in France on D-Day in the Second World War, so they must understand how they endured setbacks in the larger Normandy campaign. Such is the object of Seven Days in Hell. And nobody illustrates this truth better than military historian David O’Keefe.”
“An impressive book that tells an extraordinary tale. David O’Keefe, a talented storyteller, has crafted an immensely detailed account. From the heroics of the regimental snipers and the tragedy of the acting battalion commander to the questionable decisions made by senior commanders, O’Keefe sheds new light on the Battle of Verrières Ridge.”